LONDON—Oil fell for a third day on Thursday as fears over the economic impact of rising interest rates offset a surprise drop in U.S. crude inventories and hopes for Chinese demand.
U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s comments this week on the likelihood that interest rates will need to be raised more than previously expected in response to recent strong data continued to weigh on oil and other risk assets because of the potential impact on economic and demand growth.
Brent crude fell by 34 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $82.32 a barrel by 0902 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude slipped by 11 cents to $76.55. Both benchmarks declined between 4 percent and 5 percent over the previous two days.
“Fears of recession are conspicuously rising,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM.
Oil prices on Tuesday registered their largest daily fall since early January after Powel’s comments.
“Oil prices are still under the influence of Powell’s hawkish tone,” said Suvro Sarkar, lead energy analyst at DBS Bank, pointing to the possibility of a 50 basis points rate hike rather than 25 basis points.
There was some support for oil from Wednesday’s official figures on U.S. crude inventories, which fell 1.7 million barrels last week to end a 10-week run of increases. That compared with expectations in a Reuters poll for a 400,000 barrel increase.
Oil has also drawn support from expectations of rising Chinese demand.
While China’s crude oil imports in the first two months of 2023 fell 1.3 percent year on year, analysts pointed to accelerating imports in February as a sign that fuel demand was rebounding after Beijing scrapped COVID-19 controls.
By Alex Lawler